Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Orlando filmmakers head to Atlanta for Filmapalooza

Posted By on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 at 6:13 AM

click to enlarge Cinematographer Alvin Teves shoots Alea Sigueroa with his Sony A7S on the set of 'Wake Up'
  • Cinematographer Alvin Teves shoots Alea Sigueroa with his Sony A7S on the set of 'Wake Up'
Orlando will be one of 128 cities from around the world represented at Filmapalooza in Atlanta on March 2-5.

The event will screen the best films from the 48 Hour Film Project, the world’s largest timed filmmaking competition.

The “48,” as filmmakers call it, requires participants to write, shoot and edit a short film (4-7 minutes long) in just two days. Though one can assemble a team, acquire equipment and plan locations beforehand, nothing else can be done in advance. And to prevent cheating, teams are given a genre, prop, line of dialogue, and character trait and name to incorporate into the films. The top movies from Filmapalooza, as selected by judges, will screen at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Filmapalooza’s Orlando entry this year is Wake Up, written and directed by Joshua Ortiz and starring Hunter Rhyne and Alea Sigueroa. The film about a man haunted by a recurring nightmare beat out 27 other movies during Orlando’s 48 Hour Film Project on August 21-22 and also won best direction, best cinematography and best actor. (Full disclosure: I was one of the four judges.) Surprisingly, Ortiz says the most difficult part of the process wasn’t the filming itself, but the genre he was given.

“The biggest challenge was probably the fact that we got thriller/suspense. I’d never tackled that genre before,” he says. “When I opened [the envelope], everyone else was excited, but deep inside I was really nervous.

“Once I came up with the story, [the biggest challenge] was making sure everyone else was on page because … it’s a convoluted story,” Ortiz says. “It’s not straightforward.”

His efforts obviously paid off, and he says he’s eagerly anticipating Filmapalooza.

“What I’m really looking forward to, you know, is meeting all the other filmmakers who are just as excited as I am, because I feel like there’s gonna be a lot of first-timers there, too, and we’re all going to be entering this with this excitement and anxiousness and [confusion]. I’m just excited.”

Also enthusiastic about his first Filmapalooza is Rhyne, winner of the best-actor award at the Orlando competition.

“I’m really excited about seeing the product that we worked so hard to make,” Rhyne says, “and I’m really excited to see it in an even larger venue with an even larger audience. And, you know, in particular, it think it would be nice to see, I guess, the competition,” Rhyne laughs, suggesting that he, like most other filmmakers, view fellow participants more as comrades than competitors.

“Working under the time constraints [was] the most difficult part of the competition,” Rhyne says. However, in contrast to some filmmakers who like to hammer out a completed script prior to filming, he suggests that improvisation worked best for Wake Up, but only after the cast and crew agreed on a “big-picture idea” for the film.

“We didn’t even have a working script for most of the experience,” he says. “It was a lot of improv. It was a lot of working with Josh [Ortiz] directly. I spent a lot of time just sort of working with the story to come up with what the character would say, how it would work, that sort of thing. There was a lot of on-the-fly stuff.”

Orlando’s Dale Metz, who also participated in the most recent Orlando 48 Hour Film Project and attended Filmapalooza when it was held in New Orleans two years ago, plans to journey to Atlanta this year, too.

“I think we all enjoyed the camaraderie with fellow filmmakers at the various social events and, in particular, with fellow 48ers,” Metz says of the 2014 event. “The 48 is a unique experience and one that is kind of fraternal. We can generally empathize with the challenges and experiences that a 48 weekend brings for most teams. The opportunity to view all of these winning films … is also quite memorable. So many of the films do leave an impact, in particular when one contemplates the time constraints involved.”

Kyle Snavely, producer of the Orlando 48, will also be attending Filmapalooza for the second time and says the event is a great one for not just participating filmmakers but anyone who loves film.

“I would encourage any film lover to attend Filmapalooza, and not just the screenings, but all of the additional networking events and workshops, as you will meet filmmakers from literally around the world,” he says. “It is such an amazing time simply having a conversation with someone from Paris, or having a drink with a team from Israel, or singing karaoke with a director from South Africa. It's an experience like no other.”

Filmapalooza will be held in midtown Atlanta. In addition to the 128 city-winning films, the event will include 16 other movies (including two “48 Day” feature-length films), filmmaker workshops, parties and an awards ceremony. The W Midtown will serve as the official hotel, with screenings taking place in two theaters across the street. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.48hourfilm.com/filmapalooza/#/. For more information on the Orlando 48, see http://www.48hourfilm.com/orlando-fl. And to watch Wake Up online, visit vimeo.com/gomojo/wakeup.

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